Colorado River Basin
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Report highlights need for decisive action on Colorado River supplies

Report highlights need for decisive action on Colorado River supplies | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it
A new report tapped multiple experts in the seven states of the Colorado River basin to solicit solutions to help shore up water supplies into the future. Some of the fixes — such as conservatio
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Report finds consensus on Colorado River solutions | Utah Water Blog

Report finds consensus on Colorado River solutions | Utah Water Blog | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it
A new report, Mapping the River Ahead, presents diverse and thoughtful perspectives on a path forward for the Colorado River Basin. The report, by Carpe
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Carpe Diem West Report: 'Mapping the River Ahead - Priorities for Action Beyond the Colorado River Basin Study' - WaterWired

Carpe Diem West Report: 'Mapping the River Ahead - Priorities for Action Beyond the Colorado River Basin Study' - WaterWired | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it

Sarah Bates, who always gets my vote when it comes to Western land and water issues, and her friends at Carpe Diem West have just released a report, Mapping the River Ahead - Priorities for Action Beyond the Colorado River Basin Study, that is a follow-up report to previous Colorado River Basin reports.

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COLORADO RIVER: Looming Water Challenges Can Be Met with Quick Action, Innovation -- Report -- Greenwire

COLORADO RIVER: Looming Water Challenges Can Be Met with Quick Action, Innovation -- Report -- Greenwire | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it

A new report, “Mapping the River Ahead: Priorities for Action Beyond the Colorado River Basin Study,” which was conducted by the University of Montana’s Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy on behalf of Carpe Diem West, says that quick and decisive action is needed to save the basin in face of severe drought and a warming climate. 

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Mapping the River Ahead | Decision Center for a Desert City

Mapping the River Ahead | Decision Center for a Desert City | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it
A Carpe Diem West Report in partnership with the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy, University of Montana.

There’s a new way of thinking about water in the Colorado River Basin, and it’s a lot more expansive than the state centered battles of the past. This evolution is timely in light of the formidable challenges and uncertainties facing the 35 million people who depend on the Colorado River from Colorado to Calexico.

In November of 2012, the United States and Mexico signed an historic agreement for cooperative management of the Colorado River that builds upon the long-standing Treaty of 1944. Along with the federal officials who led the U.S. delegation, representatives of the seven Colorado River Basin states and environmental groups actively participated in the negotiation process, and are essential partners in its implementation. No one succeeds in this initiative unless everyone pitches in.

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A climate conversation for the Colorado River basin - Rocky Mountain Post

A climate conversation for the Colorado River basin - Rocky Mountain Post | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it
Carpe Diem West recently released a report on the Colorado River basin, “Mapping the River Ahead,” which lays out some of the most promising...
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Report Shows Unanimous Support for Colorado River Conservation

Report Shows Unanimous Support for Colorado River Conservation | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it
“Mapping the River Ahead,” a new report by Carpe Diem West, provides an insightful discussion of solutions for the Colorado River Basin.  The authors conducted anonymous interviews with more than 30 “water leaders” (disclosure, I was among them) representing a broad range of sectors and locations.  The anonymous process was a useful strategy to get…
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Looming water challenges can be met with quick action, innovation -- report

Looming water challenges can be met with quick action, innovation -- report | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it

 

Scott Streater, E&E reporter

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014

 

Quick and decisive action is needed to save the Colorado River Basin in the face of severe drought and a warming climate, according to a new report that summarizes interviews with government experts and other stakeholders across the basin that provides water for 36 million people.

 

But despite climate change and increasing water demand, the stakeholders remain positive that effective actions can and will be taken, if for no other reason than that the ongoing drought in the seven-state, binational basin has served as a wake-up call for many, according to confidential interviews with 32 stakeholders conducted by the University of Montana's Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and outlined in a report released today.

 

While the need for action and better communication among various stakeholders in the basin is not earth-shattering, it is noteworthy that the 32 stakeholders interviewed remain mostly upbeat about the fate of the basin, said Sarah Bates, a senior fellow with the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy.

 

That's true even in the wake of the Bureau of Reclamation's sweeping 2012 study that forecast a potentially devastating supply-and-demand gap on the river. The Reclamation study projected an average water deficit across the Colorado River Basin of more than 3.2 million acre-feet -- or roughly 970 billion gallons -- by 2060, in large part due to exponential population growth in the region and higher average temperatures.

 

"I think what's really interesting is that people are ready to speak confidentially, and they are remarkably candid in both the scale of the threats [to the basin] and the potential for significant action and response," said Bates, who conducted the interviews.

 

The Reclamation study created a sense of urgency among stakeholders, reflected in the latest report, that action is needed to preserve the river that stretches more than 1,400 miles from its origins in the Colorado Rocky Mountains down across the Southwest and into Mexico and the Gulf of California.

 

"The urgency of the present situation cannot be overestimated, and no one knows the risks better than the water managers who will guide the actions and formulate the contingency plans of the future," Anne Castle, the Interior Department's assistant secretary for water and science, wrote in the forward to today's 24-page report. "While each has particular interests to guard, Colorado River experts also know that solutions will not be easy and will likely require adjustment to some heretofore jealously guarded positions and anticipated benefits."

 

The University of Montana researchers summarized all the interview results and compiled the report -- titled "Mapping the River Ahead: Priorities for Action Beyond the Colorado River Basin Study" -- on behalf of Carpe Diem West, a Sausalito, Calif.-based nonprofit that aims to address the impacts of climate change on Western water resources.

 

The report follows a similar 2011 effort by the university and Carpe Diem West that interviewed 29 Colorado River Basin stakeholders and experts. They asked the experts to forecast the conditions of the river basin in 15 years without management changes and asked for possible strategies to achieve a better outcome (Land Letter, May 19, 2011).

 

The 32 stakeholders in today's report, whose responses were kept confidential, ranged from Jennifer Pitt of the Environmental Defense Fund and Jim Ogsbury, executive director of the Western Governors' Association, to Mario Lopez Perez of the National Water Commission of Mexico and Eric Kuhn, general manager of the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

 

All the stakeholders who were interviewed "agreed that time is short, the need for action is urgent," according to the report.

 

"The drought 'turned the light on' for many people, so they are more open to the necessary steps to move ahead," the report quoted one official.

Another stakeholder quoted in the report said leaders need to use this to their advantage. "It's important that you don't take the foot off the pedal. Ultimately, [the basin situation] will reach a crisis stage. Unfortunately, when things reach crisis stage, we don't always make the best decisions."

 

These comments echo remarks Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made last year during a speech at the Colorado River Water Users Association's annual conference in Las Vegas. Jewell told the group of mostly water managers that if the seven states in the basin "can't reach consensus on contingency actions," her agency would step in to protect what she called "the lifeline, the critical resource for the entire southwestern United States" (E&ENews PM, Dec. 13, 2013).

 

Some of the "necessary steps" discussed by the interviewed stakeholders in the new report include more voluntary water sharing and transfers from irrigated agriculture to other areas, coupled with increased water conservation and reuse among urban users.

 

"We need to reach out to farmers to understand and solve their problems -- not just [giving them] a sense that there is a target on their back, but [offering] incentives for using water more efficiently. We need their help in coming up with solutions that also work for them," the report quotes one of the participants as saying.

 

One of the possible so-called options for action in the report is to provide "incentives for farmers who convert to drip irrigation or grow less thirsty crops."

 

But city dwellers need to do their part too, according to the report, with several participants saying that urban areas "should get their house in order before they start demanding water from other sectors."

 

A market-oriented solution discussed by the interviewed stakeholders involves establishing a water banking system, in which water rights and conserved water are saved for future use -- ideally for dry years.

 

Still another possible solution discussed by the participants is taking water from outside the river basin to augment Colorado River water, possibly from the Mississippi River.

 

Former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at the time the Reclamation supply-and-demand study was released in 2012 that such a proposal would be "impractical and technically not feasible" (E&ENews PM, Dec. 12, 2012).

 

The interviewed stakeholders acknowledged that such a move would be a last resort.

"You can't milk a dry cow," one stakeholder is quoted as saying in the report, "and that's what the Colorado River is going to be."

 

That's why action is needed now, Castle wrote in the forward to the report.

"The stakes have never been higher, but the level of engagement and willingness to acknowledge all the elephants in the room are also at an all-time peak," she wrote. "This report gives voice to some important ideas for potential refinement and a peek into the evolution of thinking and broad-based education that will be essential in identifying practical and implementable solutions to our common challenges."

 

Email:sstreater@eenews.net

 

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Colorado River Water Conservation District

Colorado River Water Conservation District | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it

Priorities for Action Beyond the Colorado River Basin Study 
The Colorado River has always been known for its superlatives - the most volatile supplies, the most iconic landscapes, the most dammed, the most litigated, and recently, the most threatened. The challenges of the past have been overcome with achievements that matched the scope of the difficulties - significant and much-emulated breakthroughs in engineering and deal-making. The challenges of the present and future will require an even greater degree of creativity and ability to see through immediate gains and losses to the greater and longer term benefits to river interests and communities. The leaders in Colorado River water issues have historically risen to the challenges, tackling tough issues as they arise, and the leadership engaged today is in the complicated and painful throes of doing so again.

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Mountain West Perspectives

Mountain West Perspectives | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it
Mountain West News is a daily summary of news and opinion about issues critical to the Rocky Mountain West.
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The Colorado River and the future of the West

The Colorado River and the future of the West | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it
Up here in Colorado, it's been a great year for snow. So great, in fact, that it might be easy to forget the challenges facing the Colorado River, the lifeline for nearly 40 million people in the Southwest.
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California Water Plan eNews- April 2, 2014

California Water Plan eNews- April 2, 2014 | Colorado River Basin | Scoop.it
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